On the surface, it seems Scarlett Johansson has struck again, deciding to play a trans man in an upcoming movie. The internet, however, can’t decide how angry to be.
Not too long after we lost our marbles after Scarlett Johansson became the half-robot-half-Japanese Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, the rest of the bag has found the drain upon hearing the news that she’ll be playing a trans fellow Dante “Hex” Gill in an upcoming biopic, Rub & Tug.
— NME (@NME) 3 July 2018
Now, there’s a through-line between both films, in that they’ll share a director and a lead actor. But, that’s just background, and perhaps an indication of a lesson not learned. Regardless, she was launched into the sun after her reply to the backlash was known:
Scarlett Johansson had to know there would be justified pushback on her playing a trans man in a new movie. But WOW at this “update.”
Is she insinuating her right to a play a trans man is a White Feminist™ issue bc cis white actors have played trans women? I’m disgusted. pic.twitter.com/V0a43UAJu5
— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) 3 July 2018
We find ourselves at an interesting pivot. The names she mentioned all were castigated/honoured for playing trans roles, as well as her dipping the brush into the #MeToo side of the spectrum. Her point, I assume, is that it exists before she took the role, so what’s the problem? The obvious response is that well then is not now.
The internet seems to be split on the issue, somewhere between a massive something and a massive nothing.
No Scarlett Johansson is not insinuating that because she said nothing close to that.
You’re more than entitled to be angry/frustrated/bemused at the casting choice but keep it reigned in, eh?
— (@OfSelina) 3 July 2018
Two of which are accused sexual predators
— Scarlett Harris (@ScarlettEHarris) 3 July 2018
youre calling out a woman for playing a woman transitioned to a man, do you want a biological man to play this role or do you want someone who isnt an actor
— Couch-surfer Couture (@totweettoodrunk) 4 July 2018
Scarlett Johansson has proven time again that she is not much of an ally when it gets in the way of her personal advancement. I hope this new movie will be rewarded in the same way as GitS – mediocre reviews and a box office failure.
— Hanna Ines Flint (@HannaFlint) 3 July 2018
She’s as right as she is wrong. Maybe the role should have gone to a legitimate transactor, and maybe we should remove the accepted casting culture before we flay her. I believe her logic is along the lines of: I wouldn’t take it if roles like this wouldn’t exist.
However, applying the context, that logic becomes more difficult to accept. Sticking entirely to the narrative, the real Tex Gill, identified as a man, not a woman in drag. So, then the question becomes, should a cis man play Dante Gill? Well, I fear that’s another internet argument, with the answer being no, but also maybe more than Scarlett playing him.
That’d be arguably wrong, but arguably closer to being right.